Sep. 2—To bring awareness to the financial struggles that families of sick children face while raising money to support them during those difficult times, a local nonprofit organization recently celebrated its one year anniversary by presenting funds to the family of a terminally ill child.
Project CHAP, or Children's Health Assistance Program, founder Alina Randhawa said she started the organization as a club at her Bay Area high school as a sophomore last year after she discovered that over 13 percent of American children come from families unable to afford medical bills.
"After finding out that medical bills were a prominent issue for American families, I knew I had to help in some way," said Randhawa. "I thought that starting an organization and directly helping families would be a good start to help battle the issue."
Randhawa said Project CHAP recognizes the flaws in the American healthcare system and aims to make a change through its cause by selecting a child every school year to support through fundraising.
According to Randhawa, the families are selected through word of mouth at local hospitals in California.
"We select families whose stories we are inspired by and want to further help," said Randhawa.
Last year's child was Ethan McCoy, a 10-year-old boy who suffered from a rare pediatric brain tumor.
Ethan passed away from pediatric brain cancer on Oct. 22, 2020, after battling the disease for two months.
"He had three brain surgeries and underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments at UC Davis," a release by Project CHAP said. "Nonetheless, Ethan continued to fight and remained resilient despite setbacks in his cancer journey. Though he passed late last year, his spirit continues to live on and Project CHAP will continue to spread his story."
Through the sale of sweatshirts on its website and donations, including $1,000 from Colusa Medical Center and $500 from Glenn Medical Center, Project CHAP raised $3,000 in its first year, all of which was donated to Ethan's family during a ceremony held at Colusa Medical Center last week.
"This is such an important cause for me because I have a lot of family in the medical field," said Randhawa. "My dad is a gastroenterologist and hearing stories about families not being able to make ends meet on their medical bills really tore my heart but inspired me to start something that combated the issue."
Aside from fundraising, Project CHAP spreads awareness toward current medical issues and promotes positive change in the medical community. Recently, Randhawa said CHAP members made over 20 cards for an organization called Cards for Hospitalized Kids, which is an organization where critically ill children are given uplifting cards as support.
Ethan's parents have also started a memorial scholarship fund to provide scholarship grants to graduating high school seniors of Butte County that are pursuing degrees in nursing or nursing programs. The scholarship fund can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/aaxm675d.